Perez: U.S. Lagging in Paid Leave

U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez has taken his country to task for being far behind the curve when it comes to paid leave laws. In a blog posting, the labor secretary said he realized just how far behind we are when he met last week in Australia with his counterparts from 20 major economies.

Bottom line: We are the only industrialized country that doesn’t have a paid leave law.

And that’s  not consistent with the lip service we give to the “family values,” he said.

Perez gave these examples:

  • Canada guarantees at least 15 weeks of paid maternity leave, with some employee cost- sharing as part of the national employment insurance system. Parental leave is 37 weeks shared between both parents with similar payments. There is also child care support of $100 per month for children under six.
  • The United Kingdom allows women to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave (including 39 weeks with pay), in addition to a range of options for paternity leave.
  • Australia offers up to 18 weeks of parental leave with financial support, and at 5.8 percent its unemployment rate is lower than ours. The conservative Australian government didn’t embrace this policy grudgingly; they made it a centerpiece of their campaign platform and want to extend it to 26 weeks with more financial support.
  • Brazil, with unemployment comparable to ours, grants women 120 days of leave at 100 percent pay.
  • Japan offers paid maternity leave at slightly reduced salary and benefits for up to 14 weeks of total leave. Moreover, Prime Minister Abe has made “Womenomics” – increasing GDP by boosting female labor force participation — a cornerstone of his governing agenda.

He concludes: “While the rest of the world leans in, we’re still falling behind.”

Read more from his blog.

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